YYJ: Onward City with Caste Projects and Guests (Part 2)

Onward City Event

What is the contemporary? How do we build and inhabit our city in a way that gels with who we are, and who we’re becoming? How do we grow and work together as a community, without stepping on each others’ toes in haste, without getting slowed down and frustrated with red tape and liability?

Episode 16 of the Working Together Podcast is a special one! It’s a recording from an event held in Victoria, BC the city I currently hail from, called Onward City. The speakers are:

  • Whitney Davis – Arts Educator, Librarian
  • Jill Doucette – Founder, Synergy Enterprises
  • Craig Dykers – Architect & Co-Founder of Snøhetta
  • Helen Marzolf – Executive Director, Open Space
  • Jonathan Tinney –  Director of Sustainable Development & Community Planning, City of Victoria

This is part 2 of a wide ranging conversation about contemporary culture, public space and the forces that shape a city hosted by friend and collaborator Caleb Beyers of Caste Projects. (for part 1, listen here)

Have a listen to the episode and subscribe to The Working Together Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play and other podcast directories.

Some Big Ideas Exchanged: “snow day”, owning your existence, critical mass, from tinkering in the studio to making something happen, and more!

“You tread a careful line between neoliberalistic “let’s business control the world” [approach, and the approach] of leaving room for creativity and innovation in a city… from a city’s point of view, it’s really challenging to legislate right in that perfect zone… How do you create those spaces? Allow access for entrepreneurship at the ground level… If we don’t have spaces like that then we won’t see that groundswell of entrepreneurship to give people those entry points, to create those spaces, to create great cities, to invest in public space…” – Jill Doucette, Synergy Enterprises


“The cities and the places that are the most vibrant and the most exciting, are ones where people feel like they can do something–whether it is fixing things or taking on whatever activity [they want to]. At Open Space, we’re always looking for things, or things sometimes come to us, that by normal standards of what constitutes contemporary art, [are] a little bit funny… When I first moved here from Saskatchewan, I thought I knew everything about snow and ice, but the first time it snowed here, I realized that no, I don’t know anything about snow!… There’s this phenomena [here in Victoria] called the “snow day”. And on snow days, you get to see incredible activity here: I saw somebody trying to clean their driveway off with a leaf blower…[people] get their kayaks out and they start to go down the inclines on the kayaks. Everybody is witnessing this, and there’s a certain kind of creative energy circulating in the city because of that. There’s all kind of things that occur, or happen, or are instigated in the most casual and wacky ways here, that are largely under the radar. And it’s such a beautiful thing to be able to participate in that. I don’t know if you can legislate that.” – Helen Marzolf, Open Space


“Providing people with a sense of ownership is a great thing… If you feel that you own your existence, and you own your destiny and you own your time on earth, you’re going to feel more creative and more able to live in your habitat.”  – Craig Dykers, Snøhetta


“I think the concept of critical mass is a really important one… the way that cities and the business community grow from being a place of shopkeepers to a place of strong entrepreneurship… is the ability to scale and creating some of the infrastructure [for this]… Cultural production is the same, we need to think about what the ecosystem is within our particular community that allows cultural production to occur.” – Jonathan Tinney, City of Victoria


“When I’m working in my studio, I can tinker, I can draw, I can make models, I can do whatever, because I know that they’re only ever going to exist there in my mind. When I start thinking about how to get them out into the world and how to make things happen… it almost feels like it’s too unwieldy and chaotic.” – Caleb Beyers, Caste Projects


“Inclusion and accessibility for families and kids [is important]… I’m thinking about festivals that have popped up in Victoria… over the years the city has started to allow drinking next to kids… it’s OK to have a beer, or however many, i.e. “you be the parent you know what you can do”, and kids are allowed to be in the space where adults drink, whereas before there was a big fence… and my kids have had glorious times at these events, where otherwise they wouldn’t have got to rock out with Courtney Love.” – Whitney Davis, Librarian

And more!

References, allusions, and mentions implied:

People mentioned:

Credit where credit is due:

This event and podcast were made possible with support from:

  • Gabriel Ross
  • Aryze
  • Purdey Pacific Properties
  • Category12 Brewing
  • Metalab
  • Study-Build

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